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Flames delayed in South Africa

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Ulemu Msungama

Malawi national football team, the Flames, endured travel hitches as the majority of the squad was stuck in Johannesburg, South Africa, en route to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Group B qualifier.

The Flames left the country on Monday morning but were forced to pro-long their stay in South Africa due to flight connections.

Instead of arriving in Ouagadougou Tuesday, the Flames will jet in the Western African country today, having left Johannesburg Tuesday.

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Only Rafiq Namwera, defender Nixon Nyasulu and South Africa-based trio- Gerald Phiri Jnr, Richard Mbulu and Chembezi Dennis connected to Ouagadougou as the rest of the squad spent a night in Johannesburg.

The five proceeded alongside Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Executive Member Rashid Ntelera, who is the leader of delegation, and the team doctor.

Interestingly all this happened in the presence of Sports Minister Ulemu Msungama, who is part of the delegation but his presence has attracted mixed reactions.

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Meanwhile, Ntelera has blamed the development on the booking system of the airline but promised to motivate players to avoid emotional breakdown.

“Ordinary we would have had enough time to rest but we were faced with this situation which is not of our own making. This is surely outside our control.

“It was disappointing indeed to be at the airport from 11am on Monday up to the following day but we will talk with the players once we meet to uplift their morale,” Ntelera said.

Football analyst George Kaudza Masina described the development as a setback fearing that it will have a negative impact to the team ahead of the match against the Stallions.

“This is not good for the Flames as they will not have enough time to rest and loosen up. This might affect the players both physically and psychologically. Fam could have done better in dealing with their flight bookings as they knew about the game long ago and let this be a wakeup call for the future fixtures,” Masina said.

Meanwhile, former Flames captain Limbikani Mzava has been ruled out of the squad after testing positive for Covid-19.

Mzava has joined DSTV Premiership side AmaZulu following his release from Highlands Park having sold its Premiership status.

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